An angel will mark the spot
JOSEPH Beebe's grave in Liberty County will soon be marked by more than a temporary metal stake and a small card.
Since shortly after his March 2000 death from what authorities called "battered child syndrome," the 8-year-old boy's body has lain in a grave in Ryan Cemetery with only the small sign and a blue plaster angel to mark the spot.
But two Houston-area couples have taken it upon themselves to make sure Joseph is not forgotten. Many others have expressed a desire to honor him, as well.
After reading the cover story about Joseph's brief life and tragic death in the Chronicle's Texas Magazine last Sunday, Floyd and Martha Wilson, who live on Houston's south side, donated a 3-foot-wide granite monument for the grave.
That same day, Bill and Paula Lowery, of northwest Harris County, volunteered to pay for the engraving on the stone.
Their responses have been typical of the reaction to the story about Joseph and his five siblings, all with impairments from birth, who were adopted by Brian and Edith Beebe.
The couple raised the children in the Tarkington Prairie community and appeared, to most observers, to be providing a loving, religious home. Only after Joseph died and police saw his bruised, malnourished body did the family come under closer scrutiny.
The couple, and Edith Beebe's 19-year-old son from a previous marriage, Justin Martin, are awaiting trial on multiple charges of injury to a child.
Martha Wilson said that she and her husband took action because he was adopted and verbally abused as a child.
"What's sad is that (Joseph) didn't ask to be brought into this world and dealt these kind of cards," she said. "He never had a chance."
The Lowerys, who have adopted two children, also were deeply affected by Joseph's story.
"You have a little child trying so hard to live when he weighed only two pounds at birth, but nobody would let him," said Bill Lowery.